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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even if most middle and high schoolers become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine over the summer, most schools aren't likely to mandate them, at least not this year.

Driving the news: The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds soon.

Why it matters: Children are at a low risk for serious illness from COVID-19, but allowing the virus to circulate among unvaccinated kids could lead to new, more dangerous variants and slow down the protection of adults, experts say.

  • But only 52% of parents of a child under 18 say they’re likely to vaccinate their kids as soon as they're able, an Axios/Ipsos survey shows.

What happening: The Los Angeles Unified School District, which initially said it would require students to get vaccinated once the shot was widely available, walked back its statement after lawsuit threats.

  • Other major school districts have either said they won't mandate vaccines or that they're awaiting guidance from local health officials before making a decision, Bloomberg reports.

While public schools require a number of vaccinations against diseases like tetanus, polio and measles, adding the COVID-19 vaccine could be a lengthy process, Alana Genderson, an associate at law firm Morgan Lewis, tells Axios.

  • "Schools need to reengage on how they want to deal with that unvaccinated population of students while also not stigmatizing them," she said.

The bottom line: Experts say schools should forego mandates — and the political uproar and lawsuits they would bring — and simply try to vaccinate as many students as possible voluntarily.

Go deeper

Biden administration offers aid to Florida schools defying DeSantis order

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Photos: Joe Raedle and Win McNamee via Getty Images

The Biden administration is stepping in to offer financial assistance to Florida educators defying Gov. Ron DeSantis' law banning local K-12 mask mandates.

Why it matters: The battle over mask mandates in schools has been brewing for weeks. The Republican governor recently threatened to withhold pay from superintendents and school board members who go against his ban.

Aug 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Texas judge allows county to temporarily defy Gov. Abbott's mask ban

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

A Texas district judge granted Harris County’s request for a temporary order that prevents the enforcement of Gov. Greg Abbott's recent executive order banning face masks mandates in public schools, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Why it matters: The order allows the county to temporarily enforce mask mandates for students and school faculty as COVID cases continue to tick up throughout Houston.

Aug 14, 2021 - Health

Excess COVID cases, deaths linked to wildfire smoke in new study

Flames rise during the fire in the village of Peyki as firefigters and residents continue to respond on the fifth day of a wildfire in the area north of the island of Evia, Greece, on Aug. 8. Photo: Dimitris Lampropoulos/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Exposure to high levels of fine particle pollution produced by wildfires may have led to thousands more COVID cases and deaths, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

Why it matters: Research has shown that smoke can have dangerous health impacts, a correlation that is putting more and more at risk as the pandemic collides with the climate crisis.

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